The moment the season ended, with that disappointing overtime loss to Virginia in the final game of the NCAA Tournament, Texas Tech coach Chris Beard knew he was losing four of his top five scorers from a 31-win team — namely sophomore Jarrett Culver (to the NBA Draft) plus seniors Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens and Brandone Francis. Consequently, it seemed clear that recruiting the graduate-transfer market would be necessary to keep the Red Raiders on the national radar.
So Beard started recruiting.
And, to the surprise of no one, for the second straight offseason, Beard has recruited the graduate-transfer market successfully. In recent days, Texas Tech has added T.J. Holyfield, a grad-transfer from Stephen F. Austin, and Chris Clarke, a grad-transfer from Virginia Tech. Both players are proven Division I contributors who project as likely starters. They’re among the reasons I’ve moved the Red Raiders to No. 13 in the 2019-20 CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 preseason college basketball rankings.
As always, I’ve updated these rankings to reflect where 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictions currently have any relevant uncommitted Class of 2019 prospects projected to enroll. That’s why 5-star forward Jaden McDaniels is now on Kentucky’s projected roster, why 5-star guard RJ Hampton is now on Kansas’ projected roster, and why 5-star forward Precious Achiuwa is now on Memphis’ projected roster. If and when those Crystal Ball Predictions change, these rankings will change again. Then I’ll simply rinse and repeat, as much as necessary, until the season begins in November.
Top 25 And 1
Top 25 And 1 analysis
|Cassius Winston’s decision to return to Michigan State for his senior season was enough to keep Tom Izzo’s team No. 1 in the Top 25 And 1. The Spartans are returning three of the top four scorers from a 32-win team that won the Big Ten regular-season title and Big Ten Tournament title before advancing to the Final Four.||—||32-7|
|The Blue Devils are enrolling a top-three recruiting class for the six consecutive season – one that’s highlighted by 5-star prospects Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt. The return of Tre Jones will give Mike Krzyzewski the type of experience in the backcourt most great teams possess.||—||32-6|
|The return of Ashtan Hagans for his sophomore year is massive for Kentucky. He’ll combine with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class to create what should be the SEC’s best team.||—||30-7|
|Jordan Nwora has declared for the NBA Draft but left open the option of returning to Louisville. If he does, he’ll be the leading returning scorer for a program set to enroll a top-10 recruiting class – not to mention graduate transfer Lamarr Kimble, who averaged 15.6 points per game at Saint Joseph’s this season.||—||20-14|
|This ranking is contingent on the Jayhawks securing a commitment from 5-star guard RJ Hampton. If they do, they’ll be the clear favorite in the Big 12 once again.||—||26-10|
|Penny Hardaway is on the verge of securing arguably the best recruiting class in school history. If Memphis lands 5-star forward Precious Achiuwa, as is expected, he’ll join 5-star center James Wiseman in the frontcourt and give the Tigers two projected top-10 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.||—||22-14|
|The early loss of Bruno Fernando should mostly be offset by the return of Jalen Smith and addition of former 5-star prospect Chol Marial. The Terrapins will be talented, experienced and a real threat to Michigan State at the top of the Big Ten.||—||23-11|
|The loss of Coby White after one season stings a little considering he didn’t project as a one-and-done prospect coming out of high school. But the enrollment of 5-star guard Cole Anthony should fill any hole UNC might otherwise have in the backcourt.||—||29-7|
|The Cavaliers are losing the top three scorers from their national championship team, all of whom are entering the NBA Draft early. But Tony Bennett still has enough to keep Virginia nationally relevant.||—||35-3|
|Zach Norvell’s decision to remain in the NBA Draft means Gonzaga is losing the top four scorers from last season’s team. That’s among the reasons why it was crucial for Mark Few to secure a top-10 recruiting class and enroll a heralded graduate transfer like Admon Gilder.||—||33-4|
|Kevin Willard spoke with Virginia Tech about its opening but ultimately remained at Seton Hall. He has a roster good enough to take the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year.||—||20-14|
|In a bit of a twist, Villanova will not be the favorite to win the Big East. But the Wildcats, thanks to a top-five recruiting class, should still operate near the top of the sport.||—||26-10|
|Chris Beard has once again reloaded in Lubbock via the graduate-transfer market. The Red Raiders, thanks to the late additions of Chris Clarke and T.J. Holyfield, should compete for back-to-back Big 12 titles.||8||31-7|
|Louis King’s decision to enter and remain in the NBA Draft was a blow to Oregon. But three of the top six scorers are still expected back — and they’ll pair with a top-15 recruiting class that should make the Ducks the Pac-12 favorites.||1||25-13|
|Sean Miller, even with an NCAA cloud hovering over his program, has secured a top-five recruiting class that should return the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament. The addition of grad-transfer Max Hazzard was a nice late development.||1||17-15|
|Chuma Okeke’s decision to remain in the 2019 NBA Draft is another early-entry blow to the Tigers. But Auburn is still returning three of the top six scorers from a team that won 30 games and advanced to the Final Four.||1||30-10|
|Tyler Cook is determined to remain in the NBA Draft, which isn’t ideal for Iowa. But the Hawkeyes are still returning two of their top four scorers – most notably Luka Garza.||1||23-12|
|Houston reaching a deal on a contract extension for Kelvin Sampson was a massive development for the AAC program. The Cougars will be capable of winning back-to-back league titles.||1||33-4|
|The loss of Carsen Edwards is obviously a big deal. But Matt Painter has proven capable of running a competent program even when he loses key pieces.||1||26-10|
|Every relevant piece from a VCU team that won the Atlantic 10 by two games should be back. That includes four players who averaged double-digits in points this season.||1||25-8|
|If Grant Williams and/or Jordan Bone return, Tennessee will be significantly higher in the Top 25 And 1. But if they both remain in the NBA Draft, as expected, the Vols will have to replace the top three scorers from a team that lost in the Sweet 16.||1||31-6|
|The Bears are losing Makai Mason and King McClure. But they’ll get Tristan Clark back and likely make the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in a seven-year span.||—||20-14|
|The Bluejays are returning all five starters from a team that closed the season by winning seven of their final nine games. That should be enough to help Creighton advance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.||—||20-15|
|Five of the top seven scorers from a team that spent part of last season ranked are expected back – including Kaleb Wesson, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds as a sophomore. Those returnees, combined with a top-15 recruiting class, should have Chris Holtmann in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year.||—||20-15|
|The top six scorers from a Davidson team that finished 14-4 in the Atlantic 10 are expected back – including A-10 Player of the Year Jon Axel Gudmundson. As long as Kellan Grady stays healthy, the Wildcats will be good enough to advance in the NCAA Tournament.||—||24-10|
|The top four scorers from a 28-win team are all expected back – most notably Sam Merrill, who averaged 20.9 points per game last season. Barring a surprise or injury, he’ll win back-to-back Mountain West Conference Player of the Year awards.||—||28-7|